WICKED Tour Defies Gravity with Hefty Economic Impact on Omaha
Broadway's biggest blockbuster, WICKED, flew out of the Orpheum Theater on Sunday, May 25, after a third engagement presented in association with Omaha Performing Arts and Broadway Across America. The phenomenon returned after record-breaking runs in 2009 and 2011 and made a significant impact on the local economy by generating $15.5 million in economic benefit to Omaha. Travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by theatergoers, WICKED cast members and production staff all benefited from the three-week 24-performance engagement leaving a very positive impression on the citizens of Omaha.
"Touring Broadway productions are an enormous contributor to Omaha's economy. We take pride in the fact that touring productions like WICKED entertain a large percent of our community as well as attract tourists," Joan Squires, Omaha Performing Arts president, said.
The 2014 Omaha engagement of WICKED entertained over 56,000 patrons and grossed nearly $4.5 million, making it one of the top ticket sellers in Omaha Performing Arts' history.
Squires said 50% of the audiences came from outside Douglas and Sarpy counties in Nebraska and 23% were from outside the state of Nebraska. The $15.5 million figure is based on Broadway League calculations that tours contribute an impact 3.5 times the gross ticket sales to the local metropolitan area's economy.
"Everyone who attended WICKED experienced an incredible show of the highest quality and production values. Our audiences left with a wonderful impression of the Orpheum and our community. We were delighted to present this show and work with the outstanding cast and crew," Squires said.
Great comments were received from audience members as well as the cast who tweeted about the beauty of the Orpheum Theater and the welcoming community, Squires added. "They were especially excited with the friendliness, warmth and hospitality of Omaha and the many things to see and do when they weren't performing."
Cast members were also heavily involved with community activities including an Anti-Bullying Summit presented by Omaha Performing Arts in conjunction with WICKED and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The summit attracted 265 students, members of youth groups, teachers and counselors and included interactive workshops, a performance of WICKED.
"Congratulations to Omaha Performing Arts for bringing in another blockbuster production," said Dana Markel, executive director of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau. "When out-of-town visitors are drawn to Omaha for a production such as WICKED, they not only buy tickets, they eat in local restaurants, stay in Omaha hotels and shop in our stores. It's a valuable example of how tourism can help grow our local economy, and that's WICKED awesome."
Jeff Luby, co-owner of Wilson & Washburn, downtown bar and restaurant, is one of many business owners who commented on the show, saying "We always see a pickup in business when the Orpheum has a show. WICKED was no exception. In 10 months we had our best month to date. WICKED had a lot to do with it."
Squires thanked the community for its overwhelming support of WICKED. She also thanked the more than 400 Ambassadors who volunteered close to 6,000 hours assisting patrons as well as the more than 100 local crew and wardrobe personnel and the many Omaha Performing Arts staff members who worked on the show.